By Robbie Clark
As the U.S. divisions director of category management for Liquor Barn, a series of massive spirits emporiums, Brad Williams decided that his stores wouldn’t stock bottles of the new Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey last year. Michter’s is a popular boutique brand, with a posh flagship distillery in the works in downtown Louisville, but Williams thought the price tag, which teetered near the $4,000 mark, would be cost prohibitive.
But if you disregard this outlier and look at the accompanying list of most expensive Bourbons Liquor Barn stocked last year, Williams says it is no secret that Bourbon aficionados are willing to dole out a big chunk of cheddar for a 750 mL of an elusive Kentucky spirit. And, prices are going to continue to rise, albeit at a palpable beat of $2 or $3 here or there – for both flagship labels and rare varieties.
“I suppose that the demand is getting so high and the supply is getting so low that, you know, why wouldn’t they do it?” Williams said. “But I will give the Bourbon industry credit, they didn’t jump on it right away, like some people would.”
Williams says the sublime taste of high-dollar Bourbons isn’t the only thing that whips fans into a frenzy (though that helps), it’s the thrill of the hunt and the bragging rights of having that bottle of, say, Jefferson’s Ocean or Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 year on display in the cabinet that helps bottles blow out the door before they even hit the shelves – Bourbon connoisseurs and now competing with collectors.
“Anything that’s hard to get is a treasure, even if it’s $50,” Williams said. “I think there are people that want (rare Bourbons) because they collect it like they collect baseball cards. It’s certainly the same as trying to get that crazy toy around Christmas time that everybody wants.”
Now, Williams may have passed on the $4,000 Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey, but he was able to unload a bottle of Macallan Lalique 60 year for $20,000 and a bottle of Macallan Lalique 62 year for $24,000 last year.
Liquor Barn’s 2013 Top Dollar Bourbons
- Michter’s 20-year-old Single Barrel Bourbon, $470
- Jefferson’s Presidential Select 30 year, $310
- Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 year, $260
- Jefferson’s Ocean 2013, $250
- Jefferson’s Presidential Select 25 Year, $200
- Willett Family Estate Bourbon 21 year, $160
- Elijah Craig 21-year-old Single Barrel, $150
- Angel’s Envy Cask Strength, $150
- Jefferson’s Presidential Select 21 year, $150
- Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 year, $140
- Parker’s Heritage Collection Seventh Edition, $100
- Four Roses Secretariat 40th Anniversary Triple Crown Bourbon, $100
- Michter’s 10-year-old Single Barrel Bourbon, $85
- Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition Small Batch, $81
- Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Bourbons, $80
- Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 year (107 proof), $80